VANCOUVER, B.C. – His performance was far from dominant, but the night still belonged to hometown hero Robert Sacre. In front of the nearly 10,000 in attendance – 200 of which were his family and friends – at Rogers Arena, the North Vancouver native stole the show in Gonzaga’s 73-54 win over Hawaii in the BC Basketball Classic on Saturday night.
Sacre was efficient, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 boards, while shooting 8 for 10 from the line.
“He’s unbelievably fundamentally sound,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
“He’s a big, strong guy who’s hard to get around and just wears people out.”
“I did what I needed to do for our team to win and that’s the biggest thing ,”added Scare, who was treated to a standing ovation after getting subbed out in the game’s final minute. “I was just happy to be on my dream court where I always wanted to play.”
Freshmen guard Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 points (4 of 8 from beyond the arc), while Kevin Pangos added 12 points, as the Zags improve to 3-0.
Shaquille Stokes led the Warriors with 17 points.
The Bulldogs came out of the gates flat, missing their first eight shots and struggling to execute in their offensive sets. Poor shot selection and even poorer entry passes prompted coach Mark Few to continuously yell, “slow down” to his troops. Elias Harris’ 18-foot jumper finally put the Zags on the board at the 15:53 mark.
While Hawaii only trailed by one (14-15) at the 8:37 mark in the first half, Gonzaga went on a 10-1 run in the next 21/2 minutes. A 3-pointer by Stokes at the end of the half closed the gap for Hawaii, but the Warriors were still down 33-27 at the break.
Despite shooting poorly in the first half (33.3 percent), the Bulldogs found their rhythm on both ends of the court in the second. For the game, Gonzaga forced 23 turnovers and got to the line 28 times (Hawaii only shot eight free throws). After a pair of free throws by Stokes, Hawaii pulled within one at the 12:12 mark, but that’s as far as they got as the Zags outscored the Warriors 28-10 from that point on.
“I think we got a little tired at the end,” said Hawaii coach Gib Arnold, who was tossed out of the game late in the second. “I think the difference in the game obviously was the turnovers and they won the free-throw battle.”
Arnold was impressed with Gonzaga and Sacre.
“I think they’re very tough, the guards are a lot tougher than I thought they’d be. And (Sacre) is a big, strong presence. It’s hard to play against a 35-year-old man. He looks and plays like a 12-year NBA vet.”
He added, “He’s a first-round draft pick. You’ll see him on TNT next year.”
Though a strong defensive effort, the Zags were sloppy at times. Few admits the Bulldogs still have a ways to go on the offensive end and are trying to find out their identity.
“Partly on me, we’re trying to figure out lineups too and finding out what lineups we can be successful in,” said Few.